Adam Ruins Conspiracy Theories

Adam Ruins Conspiracy Theories

In this episode, the truth is out there – really out there. Adam explains how to spot a conspiracy theory and takes a close look at myths about the moon landing and the Satanic sex abuse scare of the ‘80s. Here are his sources.

Sources

"An astronomical number of people would've had to keep that secret, like over 400,000 NASA employees..."

Taylor Kubota. "How to Tell if Conspiracy Theories Are Real: Here's the Math." LiveScience, 27 Jan 2016.
 

"...scientists from Australia, Spain, and England who said they independently picked up the moon landing transmission..."

Valeriano Claros-Guerra. "European Apollo Ground Station Pioneer." European Space Agency, 15 Jul 2009.
 

"...and the Russians, our space-race rivals who had every reason to prove us wrong."

John Noble Wilford. "Russians Finally Admit They Lost Race to Moon." The New York Times, 18 Dec 1989.
 

"While the astronauts were on the moon, they laid out a reflective material called retroreflectors. So, today, when an observatory on Earth aims a high-powered laser at them, it bounces right back."

Robin McKie. "After 40 Years' Reflection, Laser Moon Mirror Project Is Axed." The Guardian, 20 June 2009.
 

"It may seem silly today, but at the time a survey found that 70% of Americans believed satanic ritual abuse real."

Frank Furedi. Moral Crusades in an Age of Mistrust: The Jimmy Savile Scandal. Springer, 2013.
 

"There is little to know evidence for ... allegations that [deal] with large-scale baby breeding, human sacrifice, and organized satanic conspiracies."

Kenneth V. Lanning. "Investigator's Guide to Allegations of 'Ritual' Child Abuse." Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jan 1992.
 

"I was instrumental in leading a thousand people into Satan's kingdom!"

Mike Warnke, Dave Balsiger, and Les Jones. The Satan-seller. Bridge Publishing, 1972.
 

"I drew an upside-down star on the girl's stomach with the freshly-spilled blood."

Mike Warnke, Dave Balsiger, and Les Jones. The Satan-seller. Bridge Publishing, 1972.
 

"In 1992 investigative journalists exposed Warnke as a total fraud!"

Jon Trott and Mike Hertenstein. "Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Mike Warnke." Cornerstone Magazine, 1992.
 

"And now he's a standup comedian."

Mike Warnke. Mike Warnke: Do You Hear Me?! Dayspring, 1989.
 

"What is daylight savings time, and if we're saving so much of it who's got it all?"

Mike Warnke. Mike Warnke: Do You Hear Me?! Dayspring, 1989.
 

"Daycares were a relatively new industry in the '80s, and a lot of people weren't comfortable with the idea. So, when the Satanic panic hit, they were the perfect scapegoat."

Maura Casey. "How the Daycare Child Abuse Hysteria of the 1980s Became a Witch Hunt." The Washington Post, 31 Jul 2015.
 

"Some cops were so convinced the cults were real, they questioned kids over and over until they got the answers they wanted."

Maura Casey. "How the Daycare Child Abuse Hysteria of the 1980s Became a Witch Hunt." The Washington Post, 31 Jul 2015.
 

"In total, more than 70 people were convicted for horrific crimes they didn't commit."

Roger Lancaster. "What the Pizzagate Conspiracy Theory Borrows from a Bogus Satanic Sex Panic of the 1980s." The Washington Post, 8 Dec 2016.
 

"It makes us uncomfortable when events are random, so we tend to look for patterns where they don't exist."

Robert A. Burton. On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even when You're Not. St. Martin's Press, 2008.
 

"We're also subject to what's called 'intentionality bias.' That means when something negative happens to us, even when it's an accident, we tend to assume that someone did it intentionally."

David Shariatmadari. "The Truth Is Rushing Out There: Why Conspiracy Theories Spread Faster than Ever." The Guardian, 26 Dec 2015.
 

"On top of this we're also victim to proportionality bias. Our brains crave a balance of cause and effect, so, when an event is huge and shocking, we need the cause to be just as huge and shocking."

Simon Usborne. "Why Conspiracy Theories Are so Popular and How Our Suspicious Minds Look for Big Causes for Big Outcomes." The Independent, 17 Nov 2015.
 

"When major events are truly random it unnerves us, and our cognitive biases start to take over."

Simon Usborne. "Why Conspiracy Theories Are so Popular and How Our Suspicious Minds Look for Big Causes for Big Outcomes." The Independent, 17 Nov 2015.
 

"Research suggests that when people feel threatened or out of control they become more prone to conspiratorial thinking."

Jennifer A Whitson and Adam D Galinsky. "Lacking Control Increases Illusory Pattern Perception." Science, Nov 2008.
 

"And there's evidence that's why both Republicans and Democrats become more susceptible to conspiracy theories when their party loses power."

Brendan Nyhan. "Why More Democrats Are Now Embracing Conspiracy Theories." The New York Times, 15 Feb 2017.
 

"That's why conspiracy theories tend to form around large, terrifying tragedies."

Rob Brotherton. Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories. Bloomsbury USA, 2017.
 

"These biases are a natural part of human cognition, which means conspiratorial thinking isn't just for a few crazies in tinfoil hats. We're all subject to it."

Rob Brotherton. "The Logic Behind Conspiracy Theories." The Los Angeles Times, 19 Jan 2016.
 

"51% of Americans still believe in some JFK conspiracy theory."

"Conspiracy Theory Poll Results." Public Policy Polling, 2 Apr 2013.
 

"And over a fifth of Americans believe a UFO crashed at Roswell."

"Conspiracy Theory Poll Results." Public Policy Polling, 2 Apr 2013.
 

"Real conspiracies are things like a California labor union that secretly misappropriated funds, uncovered by Paul Pringle in the LA Times."

Paul Pringle. "Seiu Accuses Local Union Leader of Misusing Funds." The Los Angeles Times, 18 Sep 2008.
 

"Or how regulators in Florida kept bad insurers open so the state wouldn't have to pay, as reported on by Paige St. John of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune."

Paige St. John. "How State Farm Cashed in on a Crisis." The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 5 Dec 2010.
 

"Actually, most studies advise against using a paper bag to treat hyperventilation."

Anahad O’Connor. "The Claim: If You’re Hyperventilating, Breathe Into a Paper Bag." The New York Times, 13 May 2008.

For More on This Topic

A Popular Science breakdown of the proprietary TV technology: http://www.popsci.com/how-nasa-broadcast-neil-armstrong-live-from-moon

How they transmitted live from the moon: https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/260122/1-small-step-for-a-cam-how-astronauts-shot-video-of-the-moon-landing/

The truth about the grainy, gritty, Emmy-winning footage from space: http://www.airspacemag.com/space/live-from-the-moon-1882006/

Here’s just a really interesting Variety article on the TV coverage plan from the week before the moon landing: http://variety.com/1969/biz/news/first-man-on-the-moon-has-tv-networks-in-orbit-1201342630/

Richard Beck’s book We Believe the Children: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/622321